You’ve got the adorable bae. The cutest outfit. The perfect place. But you’re still nervous that it’s all gonna be a little awkward. Here’s how to nix those nerves and actually, you know, enjoy yourself on the big night out.
Tip 1: Stash the phones.
The sitch: When the convo goes silent, it’s easy to rely on digital devices—to simply show your date some pics from your family’s ski trip or the TikTok meme you heart that, somehow, they haven’t seen. But, once the eyes go to the screen (or the “btw, have you seen…” starts), it can be hard to get back to, well, real-life face time.
The fix: From the first “Hey!” to the goodnight kiss, keep your phone in your bag—and your attention on your date. If the chatter goes quiet, think about what you’d ask a friend you just met. Sure, a BF or GF is different, but you’d still wanna know Marvel vs. DC, what it was like to be in the school play or whatever other interests you two might share.
Tip 2: Bring your BFFs.
The sitch: You’ve got a crush in mind, but you’re not quite ready to do dinner just you two. The phrase “group date” might make people groan, but it’s a surefire way to show you’re interested without committing to too much solo time. So suggest the cutie joins you and your friends for open skate at the ice rink.
The fix: To make your point that you’re starting to think of this person as more than just a friend, peel away from your besties a bit during the group hang for some one-on-one time. Ask if they want to join you for a cocoa or challenge them to a skate-off. Oh and before the outing? Make sure you let them know your friends are gonna be there…and mention they might bring some buds too, so they’re not surprised when your whole squad shows up.
Tip 3: Pass on the ex talk.
The sitch: You’re twirling your tagliatelle, which reminds you of the first time you ate at this place…with your ex. Before you know it, you and your current plus-one are delving into the tricky waters of…discussing the people you used to date.
The fix: We’ll just put it out there: Bringing up your past bae on a date is a no-no. Whether you’re hating on them or gushing about them, going on and on about a former flame shows you’re just not over them (and not really ready for a new relationship). So, use your time to get to know each other—without wasting your breath on an old relationship.
Tip 4: Stop sleuthing.
The sitch: You happen to know bae was in a relationship with their ex for ages. Before you two go out, avoid searching social to dig up their whole history. And on the date itself? Skipping the subject altogether will make for a more pleasant evening, even if you are super curious.
The fix: Remember when you failed to score the goal that would’ve won the tourney? That’s probably a sensitive subject for you to talk about. Others have those moments, too. If your date says they aren’t ready to share something, respect their decision (even if it’s hard!) and move on.
Tip 5: Be your true self.
The sitch: You know your crush is a diehard [whatever] fan so when the topic comes up, you’re conflicted. Should you fake a love of hockey/Hamilton/history? Two words: Heck no.
The fix: It’s important to be honest about your likes and dislikes (and encourage your date to do the same). After all, you want them to like you for you—not because you’re pretending to be into their stuff. That said, one of the fun things about getting to know someone is learning what they’re passionate about. So ask away about why Sidney Crosby is their favorite player—but don’t pretend to own a Penguins jersey if you’re more of a punk-rock fan.
Tip 6: Plan (some) talking points.
The sitch: You’re fretting about sitting across from such a cutie that your mind is going a mile a minute. Is this weird? Are they having fun? Am I chewing too loudly?
The fix: Sure, just the sight of your crush might cause all of your words to get caught in your throat. But awkward silence is, well, a silent date killer. If you’re always extra nervous around someone you like, think of a few easy-to-chat-about topics before you meet up. And don’t be afraid to offer your own opinions or share about yourself, too. Then relax, smile and just let the convo flow from there.
Tip 7: Forget fretting about the kiss.
The sitch: You two seemed to have a blast, but when the night is over, you exchange a hug when you were thinking you’d be moving toward makeout territory. So…what does that mean?
The fix: Everyone moves at their own pace. If bae’s not ready to be affectionate, don’t see it as a sign they aren’t into you. Instead, respect their decision and let that be that. If and when they are ready, they’ll let you know.
Tip 8: Skip the script.
The sitch: Your date is days away, but you can’t stop picturing how it’s all going to happen. Whether you’re expecting a picture-perfect night at your school’s winter ball or looking forward to a play followed by cappuccinos at that cute cafe, it’s easy to analyze your night before it even happens.
The fix: Being excited about a date shows you’re into them. But plotting out how every single moment will unspool (they’ll arrive with flowers in hand!) will likely lead to some kind of disappointment. Yes, you want to date someone who treats you with respect and kindness, but real-life dates can be less-than-perfect and still totally magical, without over-the-top gestures or major glow-ups. The restaurant you were supposed to go to was closed? You dropped your slice? Heads collided when they went in for a kiss? Someday, it might just be part of the sweet story of your funny first date, wayyy back when.